Vets need no other Sept. day

Published 9:58 pm Friday, August 28, 2009

The Department of Veterans Affairs officially opened a new national shrine, Alabama National Cemetery, at Montevallo on June 25 with the first interments.

A plot of 12.7 acres was developed to accommodate 1,095 casket burial sites and 1,000 in-ground cremation sites in a portion of the first phase.

Grave sites are a no-cost option for eligible veterans — veteran discharged under conditions other than dishonorable — their spouses and dependent children.

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Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said, “Providing lasting tributes to their sacrifice is one of VA’s most honorable missions, one we are proud to fulfill.”

When completed, the first phase will be 45 acres in size and provide an additional 6,000 burial sites and 2,700 columbarium niches sufficient for 10 years of burials.

The remainder of the 497 acre tract will be developed later and should meet the needs of roughly 200,000 veterans in the area over the next 50 years.

For information on the Alabama National Cemetery, call the cemetery office at 205-665-9039. To make burial arrangements at the time of need, call the national cemetery scheduling office at 800-535-1117.

Supporting the Goals and Ideals of American Legion Day-H.RES. 679:

I’m not supporting this resolution to observe an American Legion Day on Sept. 16.

There are several good reasons for my decision.

First, it will be at the exclusion of other veteran groups. The VFW, DAV, AMVETS and many others will surely feel slighted for not having a day of their own.

They are all very deserving, but we already have Memorial Day (killed in wars), Flag Day, July Fourth (patriotic), Armed Forces Day (those now serving), Patriot Day (9/11 and the War on Terrorism), POW/MIA Day (Prisoners of War and Missing in Action). Veterans Day (all who are and have served) and a host of other war related days.

Quite frankly, observance isn’t overwhelming for either Memorial or Veterans Day presently.

Second, the Legion Day (Sept. 16) comes five days after Patriot Day (Sept. 11) and only two days before POW/MIA Day (Sept. 18).

Third, filling the calendar with veteran days will erode the intent and purpose of those already observed. As example is the purpose of Memorial Day, which is sometimes misunderstood by the media now.

Patriotic Events:

Don’t forget to fly your American flag on Sept. 11 in support of the effort to regain the patriotism displayed after Sept. 11, 2001, and don‘t forget to remember our Prisoners of War and Missing in Action on Sept. 18.

James G. Smith is a community columnist who writes frequently about veterans’ affairs.